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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Off on the right foot for 2000

Gym shoes and sandals, work boots and wing tips — shoes were slung over the arms of the cross on the stage at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., where more than 800 ELCA members gathered July 15-18 for the summer's first Global Mission Event. So even as the participants sat through worship, Bible studies and speakers, the symbol reminded them of the program's focus, "Walking Together into the Next Century."

David Beckmann, an ELCA pastor and president of Bread for the World, opened the event with a challenge: "Hunger can be cured by 2020. We have the ability to solve the problem of world hunger. The key is U.S. government policy." He urged the audience to participate in the election of 2000 to influence that policy.

Poor farmers in Africa know Jesus really walks with them, he said, adding, "Jesus walks with us, too, even through the malls of America. It's the grace of God that pulls us together, toward each other — in the embrace of God."

Beckmann also was keynoter for the other two GMEs — in Orlando, Fla., and Lincoln, Neb. At all three, participants attended the "Global University," lectures and workshops on as many as 70 topics, including an update on Hong Kong after the 1997 return to China, an exploration of Lutheran-Episcopal cooperative ventures in Michigan, and a look at the struggles of refugees and the aid provided by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

Bible studies for all were led by Mercy Amba Oduyoye, a professor at Trinity College, Accra, Ghana, who is known internationally as the "mother of African women theologians." The challenge before Christians, she said, is answering the question: "How will we walk together to the next century? We will meet many whose lifestyles and beliefs seem strange. Can we walk with them and bring them home?"


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